Facing the Road Ahead with RA

We often notice valuable discussions taking place within our community forums or Facebook page that we like to highlight as a part of our Headlines. Below is a discussion on facing the road ahead with RA that we thought our community members would find interesting. Please note that the opinions represented here are solely those of their authors.

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness, like RA, can be overwhelming. Because there is no “cure,” people with RA have to cope with having this condition for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, this means potential changes in the lifestyle we are used to (like the level of physical activity we partake in), changes to our capabilities in the workplace, and even changes to the way we are able to care for our children.

One of our community members asked the question: How long does it take for the RA to reach final stage? I am really scared. I was diagnosed at age 26, have been on medication for 4 years now, seems as if it’s getting worse especially the pain. I have 2 young beautiful children. I’m afraid that I will not be able to be there for my children the way I always thought I would, like teaching them how to ride a bike or go on hiking trips or even playing sports with my children. I am afraid of missing out on their childhood because of my mobility.

Response from Mariah Z. Leach:

DSC_0855 I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling so much – especially since you’ve got two little ones to deal with! I was diagnosed at age 25 and I have a two year old and another on the way, so I completely understand the difficulties you are facing. It can be really scary to think about how to be the best parent you can when you are also dealing with a chronic condition.

However, it’s also really important to remember that RA is a chronic condition – which means there isn’t really a “final stage.” Instead, RA is something that you will (unfortunately) have to manage for the rest of your life, and there will be a lot of ups and downs. It sounds like you are having a downturn – where you are dealing with a lot more pain and the medication isn’t working as well as it perhaps once was. That means it is probably time to go talk to your rheumatologist about changing your treatment plan. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, medications that once worked simply stop working. The ever-changing nature of RA can be really frustrating, but luckily there are lots of good options for medications today so hopefully you and your rheumatologist can identify one that will get you more improvement in your symptoms than you have now.

In the meantime, remember that we are here to support you! In particular I understand the struggles of dealing with parenthood and RA at the same time – and I am always happy to chat about it or even just listen if you need to talk to someone who understands.

What adjustments have you had to make to your lifestyle since your RA diagnosis? How have you and your family adapted?

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